Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A rare Sunday for SSNTV, in a change to the published programme we were double-booked at another NT place – and since apparently cut & burn has to give way to Brownies (the little ones, with yellow badges that is, not the cakes), Mel didn’t need asking more than once to get the other kind ready as the Group pitched up at Morville Hall for the first of what will be two consecutive visits.

Workday leader Chris – yes, AGM Chair only the night before – we keep ’em busy don’t you know, continues the tale:

Another bright and sunny day greeted SSNTV on arrival – a day which was to be a scorcher for some!

After a brief tour of the garden, we set to work cutting back shrubs in the main borders either side of the central path; this was no small job and, to get the tops of some, required the use of the two three-legged ladders – kindly supplied and delivered by Guy from NT Dudmaston.  

Thankfully, some bushes required no ladders, being taken down to ground level. The resulting mass of vegetation was dragged across the lawn to be consumed by fire on a prior burn site next to the old swimming pool. The flames held good with a steady supply of dry alder removed from around the ornamental canal from the previous August workday. As there was quite a lot of smoke, it was helpful the bonfire site was some distance from the Hall; I’m not sure Mel wanted that much fumigation!  The work continued all day in sunshine with the bonfire attendees looking ever more red-faced every time there was a break for tea/coffee and cake.

Some saw it as an artistic challenge to sculp the shrubs into new shapes.  Most took on the task of balancing atop the large ladders.  By the end of the day the sun streaming through the varied coloured shrubs remaining was evidence of a job well done.

Many thanks to Mel for making us so welcome, as ever, and for the steady flow of tea and coffee – with even a slice of lemon for the peppermint tea. The cakes were plentiful, varied (flapjack, rocky road, apple & cream sponge, and Earl Grey cake for the very sophisticated!) and extremely welcome – I enjoyed each one so I know!

For those that missed out, I can only encourage you to make the journey this coming Sunday – petrol permitting, there’s still plenty more to go at  – as an added encouragement, some of the apples in the adjacent orchard may also be ready to pick.

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Because I saw that someone else wrote about this topic elsewhere, I thought I’d just make sure everyone is aware – at our recent anniversary bash we handed out “thank you’s” for volunteering efforts over time ( …ok, so perhaps not every Sunday.. )

These totalled ....345 years….

Quite an achievement – Well Done again to all those concerned, they know who they are (including our outgoing Chair)!

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So the first real cut and burn of this season’s workdays has come and gone!

All the group’s tools were out last Sunday (in joke) as, whilst ranger Mike was sunning himself on holiday, SSNTV ventured back to Dudmaston and Bonemill, Dudmaston Bank in particular near to Comer Wood to thin and help to regenerate the woodland.

It was a chance to see the impact of time away because of Covid too, as those who made it out to the last Christmas work weekend – now which year was that? – and were returning on Sunday, struggled to recognise the patch the group had cleared on the last visit. There was head-high himalayan balsam which had quickly taken the place of the previously weather damaged, felled trees and there seemed to be plenty more candidate trees to clear away.

Soon there was a sizeable fire eating up the damaged wood and hot enough to burn up the unwanted green shrubbery.  As autumn temperatures hadn’t quite arrived yet, during the day there was a gradual drift away from the strenuous tree felling and heat of the burning pyre, towards the slightly less demanding task of pulling the shallow-rooted balsam from the soil.

We were joined by new assistant ranger Sophie and one of the Dudmaston volunteer ranger team.  In fact Sophie managed a very passable impression of ranger Mike,  as she whipped round the site removing large stems at ground level with an argumentative chainsaw.

Thanks to Mags for some excellent bread pudding at cake o’clock – it’s amazing what you can do with leftovers (from our recent 40th anniversary bash).

By the end of the day the site almost looked like how we had left it the last time in 2019… oops, no, got my year wrong should read 2020!

Next up, back to Kinver for a weekend double-header amongst the sandstone rock houses.


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Just been reading that the Exeter group also reached 40 this year:

They like cake too!

Read more here:

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The 40th anniversary of the Group’s founding at Wightwick Manor has fallen during the Covid lockdowns. After a couple of belated attempts a fairly small and intimate gathering was held in a field adjoining the grounds of – not the Wolverhampton manor house – but Benthall Hall, Broseley near Ironbridge on Sunday.

The sun shone, as duly expected on the righteous and a good time was had by past and present members of the Group who attended the festivities.

There was much cake, as expected, also more than a fair amount of sandwiches, pork pies, cheese, pink fizz, quiches, samosas, sausage rolls,…need I go on.

Check out this link again for more photos appearing on this page to record for posterity of all those who were there!

So here’s just a few….

Not just one but two special cakes ( much can you read? ….tip: link with the coloured sweatshirts below..)

Getting going…

People watching….

Food, food, glorious food….

There was a bit of speeches (thanks Mr Chair and Ranger Al from NT) and silly games (thanks Dave)

Reminiscing;… and just a few of the Group’s clothing variations over time on view on the day (check with that cake…)

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For this week at the beginning of June, a message from NT Regional Head, Paul Forecast:

Dear Volunteers,

This week is National Volunteers’ Week and the theme for this year’s event is time to say thanks. Since we started reopening our properties in May 2020, you have contributed over one million hours to support the Trust. To put that time in context, it is the equivalent of our founder Octavia Hill, who was also a volunteer, volunteering continuously from the inception of the National Trust to the present day.

In the Midlands and the East you have collectively contributed a fifth of  all of that time, in roles at properties, at home and online. 2021 will have been difficult for many of you. You will have had periods where it has not been possible for you to safely come in to volunteer. Some of you may still be waiting to return. This will have been frustrating. It will have meant not being able to be with friends and play a part in the roles that bring you enjoyment. When you’ve been able to return there will have been a mixture of feelings of joy, apprehension, and uncertainty as you’ve come back to an organisation that has changed.  

I have always been grateful for the contribution you make, but in the last year your resilience, patience and ongoing commitment has been an inspiration. I have especially enjoyed hearing about how you have altered the way that you volunteer and supported your fellow volunteers. In the Peak District, volunteers supported other volunteers who were feeling isolated, and across many of our places volunteers contributed to local weekly newsletters by writing articles, sharing photos and poems.Volunteers at Attingham have supported the Trust from home by knitting fruit, vegetables and animals for a ‘woollen woods’ Christmas display. In Birmingham, volunteers have returned to carry out research and to train new tour guides. And ‘Tea Room Welcome’ volunteers have ensured that visitors have been able to use the restaurant at Flatford safely.  

So whether you have volunteered with us throughout the last year, for part of the year or are patiently waiting to return, I want to take time to say a massive thank you for your continued support.

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Success at last!

Following the latest easing of lockdown restrictions, we’re happy to report that SSNTV were able to complete the first Sunday workday of 2021 with a brilliant Covid safe day in the East Annexe of the Walled Garden at Shugborough.

As the majority of the wall conservation work has now been completed here, head gardener Caroline now has grand plans for increasing visitor access around this part of the garden, which include extending the visitor walking route out in front of the walls in the picture and creating new flower beds.

However, before the flower bed creation and seed sowing could begin, the SSNTV removals team were called in to clear the target areas of all things that don’t agree with rotovator blades or shouldn’t belong in a flower bed.

During the day we completed the challenge of uncovering, lifting, shifting and re-homing: 2 full pallets worth of stonework; 1 full pallet of slate; pallets of paling fences; 1 pallet of fence posts; some rather large tree trunks; old roof timbers and other wood left from the conservation work; a full size enamel bath (taps still working!!); a rusty bench; a random chimney pot; assorted pipes and metalwork; bricks and rubble and a nice selection of logs. 

Blessed with glorious sunshine and brilliant volunteers (as always), a fantastic day was had by the small group, on account of Covid regs. Thanks to Caroline for offering us this extra session ahead of the full workday programme which our volunteers will be happy to be reminded is due to restart in mid-May!! 

…Off to Wenlock Edge next….!!

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Your Committee met again on 27th and as per Secretary Dot’s email, in line with Gov’ regulations and subject to any further NT guidance, we are working to restart workdays after the next Covid relaxation planned for 12th April.

  • April 18th – We have pencilled in a first small workday (max. 6 people) at Shugborough
  • From May – Full programme for summer months aiming to be published by Helen

Email event details, as in the past will follow, including any H&S / Covid guidance which may vary by NT place.

…So start cleaning those boots and getting ready!!

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So instead at which worksite was it that we were socially distanced exercising instead (#1)?

…Do you need a clue?…. KINVER, of course, some of the wider new rides in the snow

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Groundhog Day ……in a good way……as workday leader Mags recounts:

Sunday 15th saw us at Kinver Edge … again. Eleven in total, each of us had already been to a post-lockdown workday at the site, so were used to, but very mindful of the instructions on social distancing and sanitising hands and equipment.

The day was a continuation of the work from a fortnight before (see Nov. 1st post) – the tumbril still in place for our bonfire.

As leader, I missed being able to provide cake, but we still had a “no cake o’clock” after about an hour’s work. I was also keeping an eye on the weather. It was bright when we arrived, and for quite a while thereafter. Useful for checking which trees needed to be removed to allow the sun into places where adders might bask. But we could see very dark clouds threatening over the ridge. When they arrived, thankfully they only delivered short showers. Not enough to noticeably dampen the spirits, nor the fire – but enough to create weather to catch the eye!

Working beyond last time’s glades into the scrub, it was not difficult to get lost. Honing in on the fire, armed with brash, easy enough; but returning to your spot to carry on thinning was not so straightforward. It was too easy to follow a track too far down the slope or go beyond the same place in among the trees. By the end of the day all was cleared and burned; every tool accounted for and newly sanitised.

Assistant Ranger Tom also took the chance to vary the chainsaw action, trying his hand at the creation of standing deadwood for habitats, rather than felling and clearing – as the pic’s show.

All in all, well worth getting out in the fresh air … and the smoke!!

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Ed’s PS: After the missed get togethers of the recent virtual AGM and cancelled Bonfire stay-away workdays, Sunday was also the chance for Chairman Chris to hand out socially distanced SSNTV annual awards for last year: Hours Prize (Leela) and Special Mentions for Workday Leading (Russell, Peter and David B).

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